The Birthday Gift
by Anne E Thompson
The days before your birthday,
Were spent meandering the towns of Italy.
Narrow cobbled streets giving shade,
From the dry heat of morning sun.
Watched by hawk-like black eyes,
That willed me to buy their crafts,
I wandered past carefully stacked offerings
Enticing me to buy for you.
Shiny leather slippers waited by the door,
Beckoning me to feel their supple smoothness.
The spicy smell of leather wallets,
Heaped in mounds on trays, and belts
Hung like skinned snakes, buckles glinting.
A sailing shop, with each nook
Stuffed with polished wood barometers,
Metallic bells with tan handles,
Nautical ornaments to clutter your study,
Telescopes that would never see.
I could imagine your smile of anticipation,
As your large hands carefully unfolded
Bright wrapping paper, your smile of delight.
The “Thank you Annie”, as you lean forwards,
For a kiss that smells of mints
But I left Italy without a gift,
Bearing instead another empty space within.
For the last gift I was ever to buy you,
Were the flowers,
For your grave.